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Customer of the Month: Paul and Christine Russell

Wood-fired cooking is an alluring and unique experience that bonds people together with time-honored traditional cooking that brings to life the timeless recipes of our past generations and new family recipes that are created today.

The possibilities of delicious dishes that can be cooked are endless and the aroma of the wood-fired in the air and taste simply cannot be matched to the conventional ways of cooking today.

Authentic Pizza Ovens have grown in popularity over the years, bringing families and communities from all around together, bonding, and creating lifelong memories with the true and authentic experience of wood-fired cooking.

Our ovens create a beautiful atmosphere for family entertainment and even add value to your home, whether it's building lifelong memories in a family keepsake or passing it along for new families to enjoy!

Meet our Customer of the Month, Paul and Christine Russell.

It is with great joy to feature some of our long-time customers over the years, Paul and Christine Russell.

They loved the authenticity of their Traditional Authentic Pizza oven so much that when they relocated, they purchased another new Pizzaioli Premium Pizza Oven to continue embellishing their love for wood-fired pizza and create new lifelong memories with their neighborhood friends and family in their new home.


Where are you from and a little background information about you?

Our names are Paul and Christine Russell and we are originally from Shelton, Connecticut. Our story starts in High School when we started dating at 14 years old. We were married in 1987 and have been married for 36 years. We both grew up in Shelton, which at the time was a small town nestled in Fairfield County, and it was very close to all the famous brick oven pizzerias in and around New Haven, CT.

To say we grew up on brick oven pizza would be an understatement. Places like Pepe’s, Sally’s, Modern, and so many others that are located on and around Wooster Street were always our favorite date night spots. Once we moved out of Connecticut, brick oven pizza was the one thing we missed most from living there.

When we moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 2000 we realized very quickly that they didn’t have pizza like we were used to. After contemplating building our own oven and then doing some research, we decided we would invest in our own premade oven.

As we began our research to build our own oven, we came across Authentic Pizza Ovens, which at the time was located in Scottsdale, Arizona. Their quality ovens were just what we envisioned and it didn't take us long to decide this is where we were going to get our first baby.

We bought our oven from Penny in 2018 and it was love at first bite. Our oven was by far the best investment we ever made. From the first moment we fired up our wood-fired pizza oven, Paul became the neighborhood pizza guy and we hosted many pizza parties at our home.

Our neighbors all knew when we would fire up the oven because it smelled like heaven in our neighborhood for hours. Five years later, in June of 2022, we moved back East to be closer to family. We are convinced it was the oven that sealed the deal with the buyer of our home, and it was tough to leave our beloved oven behind.

It was a sad time for us as we said goodbye to all the memories that were made but we knew that we'd make new memories as our first purchase in SC was going to be a new Authentic Pizza Oven.

In July of 2022, we moved to Summerville, SC, and within two weeks of settling into our new home, our new pizza oven was on the way.


Which oven did you choose and why did you choose an Authentic Pizza Oven?

The first oven we purchased while in Phoenix was the Brazza, which has since been upgraded to the Buena Ventura 'Preto' Premium oven with a newly designed facade of a cast mold of stacked stone with staggering hues of grey and black shades with blended natural tones.

We loved the new beautiful color variations, however, we ultimately decided to change it up and brighten our new outdoor space with the beautiful orange hues of the traditional terra cotta facade on the Pizzaioli Premium Pizza Oven.

We appreciated that it was essentially the same size and design as our first oven so we could continue to make larger true Italian and Neapolitan-style pizzas. We love it and are very happy with our decision.

We are excited to create new lifelong memories just as we did with our friends and family in Phoenix by hosting pizza party nights with our new neighborhood friends for many years to come!


Did you build your setup or have someone else do it?

Since our first agenda was to get our new baby coming as soon as possible, she sat in our driveway for a bit until we could find a company to help us get her into the backyard.

Like our first oven, Paul built the setup using cinder blocks and then covered it with brick. Once it was constructed, we hired a local landscaping company to bring the oven into our back yard and they hoisted it on its base using a forklift.


What is your favorite thing to cook in your oven, and have you tried any recipes besides pizza?

Of course, pizza is our favorite thing to cook but we have some other favorites as well. When we bought our first oven in Arizona we attended a local pizza cooking class that Penny offered at her location during that time.

She hired a local chef (Dani) to show us how to make the dough, the pies, and other delicious foods you can cook in the oven, like fresh bread as the temperature begins to cool down.

Some of our favorites are cheese-filled mini grilled peppers, chicken wings, red hot chickpeas, and fish. We have even cooked ham for Easter in our oven. There are endless possibilities!

Since we live in the South and the wood is less dry than it was back in AZ, we recently contacted Penny to see about using coal in the oven. Penny told us that coal is the preferred way of the Argentinians, that build the ovens, as that is their primary source of heating in their country.

We have not tried this yet but we will definitely be giving it a try soon.


Clam and Bacon White Pie

1. Heat your wood-fired oven to around 500+ degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Roll out the dough and get it as thin as you can without tearing it. Keep the dough on a pizza peel that is sprinkled with semolina for easy release. (The wood pizza peel is the best!).

3. Begin with a thin layer of good EVOO, slices of provolone cheese, fresh minced garlic, fresh or whole belly little neck clams from a can, bacon, Pecorino Romano cheese, and Italian herbs. Sea salt fresh ground pepper to taste.

This is by far our favorite pie. We also make a pie that is pear, brie, carmelized onions, pistachios, and arugula tossed in EVOO, sea salt and drizzled with balsamic glaze. Delish!!



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